Nikki Grimes, the recipient of the 2017 Children's Literature Legacy Award, returns with yet another impressive poetry collection. Directed toward, but definitely not limited to, middle-grade readers, Legacy: Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, celebrates the journey of Black womanhood.
Legacy is broken into three parts: Heritage, Earth Mother and Taking Notes. As in some of her previous works (One Last Word; The Watcher: Inspired by Psalm 121), Grimes here uses the golden shovel form, a poetic technique in which writers take "a short poem in its entirety, or a line from the poem" and use the words from the original to create a brand-new poem. Each line of the new poem must end with a word from the original poem. In Legacy, each piece by a female Black Harlem Renaissance poet (including Mae V. Cowdery, Helene Johnson and Alice Dunbar-Nelson) is accompanied by a new one written by Grimes. Each pair of poems features original artwork by a Black female artist, including Nina Crews, Pat Cummings and Andrea Pippins. The poems are about coming of age and loving who you are as a Black child and woman. In Having My Say, Grimes talks about being proud of herself and finding her voice especially, "since we live in a world where I/ will routinely be unseen, unheard, unnoticed if I am/ silent, I must speak because I am both girl and black." Radiant mixed-media art bolsters Grimes's themes, full-page, full-bleed illustrations showcasing images of beautiful Black women, young and old, of all shapes, sizes and shades living their lives and being unapologetically themselves.
The beautifully written Legacy will make anyone, regardless of age, sex or race, feel a sense of pride in being a citizen of the world. --Natasha Harris, freelance reviewer